Mid-trial Request to Change From Self-representation

A defendant's mid-trial request to change from self-representation back to representation by counsel, however, is within the court's discretion based on "'the totality of the facts and circumstances.'" (People v. Gallego (1990) 52 Cal.3d 115, 164; People v. Elliott (1977) 70 Cal. App. 3d 984, 993-994.) Relevant factors to consider include the defendant's prior history in the substitution of counsel, the reasons set forth for the request to return to representation by counsel, the length and stage of the trial proceedings, the disruption or delay which reasonably might be expected to ensue from granting the motion, and the likelihood of defendant's effectiveness in defending against the charges if required to continue to act as his own attorney. (People v. Gallego, supra, 52 Cal.3d at p. 164.) But "'while the consideration of these criteria is obviously relevant and helpful to a trial court in resolving the issue, they are not absolutes, and in the final analysis it is the totality of the facts and circumstances which the trial court must consider in exercising its discretion as to whether or not to permit a defendant to again change his mind regarding representation midtrial.'" (Ibid., quoting People v. Smith (1980) 109 Cal. App. 3d 476.) In Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, the United States Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant has a right to represent himself as long as he or she "'knowingly and intelligently' forgoes the relinquished benefits" associated with the right to counsel. (Faretta, supra, 422 U.S. at pp. 832-836.) In order to competently and intelligently choose self-representation, the defendant "should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that 'he knows what he is doing and his choice is made with eyes open.'" (Id. at p. 835.)